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Unusual attractions for an island holiday in Corfu, Greece

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Corfu nestles in the Ionian Sea off the northwest coast of Greece. The island is known for its rugged mountains and is surrounded by oceanfront resort towns. Corfu is justifiably famous for is souvlaki and ouzo and is among the most green and lush of the Greek islands.

Panoramic view of Corfu Town
Photo: Corfu Town by Marc Ryckaert on Wikimedia Commons

The island has a rich history, with the Venetian, French and British ruling here until 1864, when Corfu united with Greece. Corfu Town reflects this historic past with two Venetian fortresses, a French-style arcade and a British cemetery. There is also a ghost town, where its few residents refuse to leave.

1. New and Old Perithia

Old Perithia, Corfu, Greece
Photo: Old Perithia by Eigenes Werk on Wikimedia Commons
Perithia is a typical Greek village on Corfu, accessed from one of the main coastal roads. It has the expected taverns, a butchers shop, ice cream shop and an olive press. 

However, if you keep on going up towards Mount Pantokratora, you will find the “old” village of Palea Perithia or Old Perithia. Known locally as a “ghost town,” Old Perithia is not completely abandoned. In fact, it is among the oldest perhamently inhabited towns on Corfu. 

Originally established in Byzantine times in and around the 14th century, you will see many ruins of former homes, crumbling away into the dust. This was originally a pleasant place to live, with its vineyards and churches, and was once a wealthy village.

The village used to have a population of 1,200, but now it is reduced to a mere fraction of that number. Yet, despite the ruins and few locals, the town still has an operating tavern and there is even a bed & breakfast in the heart of the village. 

As the location is too good to waste, with remarkable surrounding scenery, Old Perithia is gradually being restored but it will take some time.

Old Perithia, Corfu, Greece
Photo: Dietmar Rabich on Wikimedia

2. British Cemetery, Korfu Town

British Cemetery, Corfu Town
Photo: British Cemetery by Nikodem Nijaki on Flickr
British Cemetery, Corfu Town
Looking back to the British occupation of the island, the next unusual location can be found while enjoying a visit to Corfu Town (or Kerkyra as it is known in Greek). The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has many attractions with great restaurants and more, but one fascinating spot can be found an 11-minute drive from the centre of town and is an eerie and fascinating visit.

This overgrown cemetery is like a hidden gem on Corfu and gives a glimpse into the history of the island. Locals in Corfu Town call the cemetery the English or British Cemetery and it dates back to the early 19th century, when the island became a British Protectorate. Up until around 1855, this was mostly a military cemetery. However, casualties from both World War I and II were also buried here, as both British and US forces used the island as a naval base.

However, civilians have also been buried here and now the island once again belongs to Greece, the graveyard is also used for members of Anglican families who descended from the British settlers.

Throughout the cemetery, around 500 graves can be seen, but these days it resembles a forgotten, overgrown garden, rather than a graveyard. The gravestones are surrounded by trees, plants and tall grasses and tortoises are often seen lumbering around through the grass to soak up a little sun on the forgotten memorial stones.

Photo by Nikodem Nijaki on Flickr

3. Paleokastritsa village and beach

Paleokastritsa, Corfu
Photo: Paleokastritsa by Dietmar Rabichon Wikimedia Commons

This quaint village offers a number of local taverns, which overlook several bays with sandy and pebbled beaches, which are surrounded by olive tree forests, making for an unusual and dramatic view. These days Paleokastritsa is a cosmopolitan seaside resort, stretching along the coastal road and offering stunning views over the bays and a pretty little harbour. The main beach at the village is small but regular excursion boats take visitors to nearby, more isolated beaches.

At the end of the coastal road stands the Monastery of the Virgin, that dominates the landscape and dates back to 1225. A small museum hosts a fascinating collection of books, post-Byzantine icons and other religious objects.
Blue Eye Cave, Paleokastritsa
Photo: Blue Eye Cave, Paleokastritsa by Hombre on Wikimedia Commons

Many believe Corfu is the mythical island of the Phaeacians and that the bay at Paleokastritsa was the place where Odysseus left his boat and met with Nausicaa. In fact, one of several sea caves here has been named Nausicaa Cave after the King of the Phaeacians' daughter, who they believe found the legendary hero Odysseus in a bad way and nursed him back to health. Another cave has been named the Blue Eye Cave, due to the patch of rich blue water which resembles an eye.

Enjoy a visit to Corfu in Greece next summer - soak up the sun on the beaches, stroll around the towns, dine in style at the local restaurants and explore some of the less usual side of this lovely Greek island. 

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Latest update: November 18, 2019